Emily Hough speaks to Anthony J Tesar about how he enjoys working in the Middle East, with its challenges that range from terrorism and threats from various political and religious factions, to local geopolitical rifts.

Anthony Tesar started his independent specialist security and risk management consultancy Le Beck International – which specialises in the Middle East and North Africa region – in 2001. “I came to the Middle East in 2004, following the compound bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,” he says. This was a pivotal moment, Tesar observes, as one of the of the most secure and crime free countries in the world: “Suddenly became under threat, and it was never going to be the same again. “We moved our offices to Bahrain to set up our regional hub with dedicated offices in Riyadh and Jeddah,” he adds.

So, what brought him to this role? “My background is primarily in the British military and later on, a bomb disposal officer,” Tesar notes, explaining that he conducted operations across the globe.

“Following my career in the special forces, I decided to set up a counter terrorism advisory service,” he continues. One month into the job, the attacks of September 11, 2001, occurred. In immediate response to the events, he was invited to assist and work with the US federal and government agencies, US Special Forces and US Department of Defense. “My mandate was to train their Special Forces and intelligence operatives on counter terrorism techniques and methodology.

Seismic shift

“In 2004, I was recommended to assist a number of financial institutions in regard to their security frameworks and, within a few months, we had signed up some of the largest banks in KSA.”
 This was when he decided to move operations to Riyadh, mainly because: “I saw a seismic shift occur throughout the Middle East and a genuine business opportunity arise. In 2008, when the situation in Saudi started to calm down, we moved our regional hub to the Kingdom of Bahrain.”

The risks in the region are manifold, he explains, ranging from terrorism and threats from various political and religious factions,
to local geopolitical rifts. Tesar says that an intimate understanding of these risks is essential and that regional instability can ultimately affect reputational risk considerably, and subsequently, any inward investment. Careful management is important to mitigate this.

However, he tells me that the challenges of working in this complex region are what he enjoys most. “ The only frustration I experience is when companies come into the region without fully understanding its demands, professing to be able to do what we do and then, inevitably, let their clients down.”

This brings us to human capital, the bedrock
of his success. Tesar says: “Security generally, is one of those areas, which unfortunately you just cannot learn from a book. You really do need to have lived, worked and experienced the issues first- hand.” Le Beck’s advisors hail from government, special forces, military, intelligence, or specialist security policing backgrounds. “Unlike many other professions, there is a very narrow band
of people who are able to work in the field of threat analysis,” he notes. “It isn’t one of the most conventional career paths and there are even
fewer people who have the ability to successfully make the transition into the private sector and understand its very particular demands.”